Fall Lifestyle, by Jim Montrose, Ayurvedic Specialist
Lifestyle Hacks for Fall Balance
Fall lifestyle counters the autumn which is dry, rough, windy, erratic, cool, subtle, and clear. These are all Vata qualities and autumn is a Vata season. The autumn harvest produces correct —more nourishing foods and heavy foods to eat for the fall and coming winter. The fall harvest provides abundant fruits and a big harvest of foods to get us through the quiet growing times of winter.
In the fall, we often slow down and prepare for the winter hibernation we seek warmth, stability or routine, and more wetness to counter falls dry, light, and erratic nature. We may accumulate a little mucous, toxins in the liver, experience reduced digestion, and may experience it in bowel movements.
We can release the bile and toxins with beets and apples (natural cholagogues) that boost the digestion and healthy elimination restoring bile effectiveness.
THE Fall DOSHA (Vata Lifestyle)
During fall, everyone is more susceptible to a Vata imbalance—even if your predominant dosha is not Vata. Imbalanced Vata dosha may show: Anxiety, lack of focus, poor commitment, Gas and bloating, Dry skin, hair, and/or nails, and Weight loss.
Vata imbalances can be helped with lifestyle hacks to create more comfort. Add the qualities of Kapha (heavy and oily) lifestyle practices such as increasing your rest, slowing down a little, a little more cream or body lotion to counter the drying nature of fall) as well as Pitta (warm and moist) lifestyle practices such as keeping warmer, enjoy hot tea, and hydrating well to regulate your moisture. Hot saunas and steam may be appreciated at this time. All these lifestyle practices in combination with the food options presented last month will help you maintain sattva, or a balance, in your body.
Read on to learn how to embrace simple hacks that keep you warm, focused, healthy, and productive this fall with a balancing daily routine.
To learn more about your own dosha take our constitution self-quiz to get a rough idea of your dosha. For help with a health issue or to get a clearer picture of your innate constitution and the current state you are displaying, schedule a constitution pulse exam with Jim, call 071 959 0786 now.
The autumn season is divided between two doshas—early autumn is governed by Pitta, and late autumn and winter are governed by Vata— change to lifestyle – importance of a regular circadian lifestyle routine that is in harmony with life’s circadian nature. The weather has turn to late fall and winter will come soon, so bundle up, stay warm and hydrate to retain moisture. These simple changes to lifestyle provide just the antidote you need to balance the transition from the Pitta months of summer to Vata-ruled fall and winter.
FALL ROUTINE FOR LIFESTYLE.
In Ayurveda we balance through the opposites, the Vata season will be less aggravating if you fill it with warmth, oiliness, deep nourishment, loving relationships, and a sense of stability, routine, and staying grounded to counter the Vata characteristics of cool, dry, light, airy and chaotic/active.
FALL LIFESTYLE PRACTICES
Avoid Vata excesses. Manage your sleep and mood carefully, fall and winter is a time for slowing down and getting more sleep, rest and emotional nourishment with family and friends. If occasional constipation occurs take a mild colon support with triphala for a month. Mild aches may be calling for a massage and a little self-care.
Follow a daily routine. Counter Vata’s chaotic nature with a regular daily routine. Try to follow the same schedule daily – wake, exercise, mealtimes, and bedtimes. Rise early for a vibrant awake day enjoying the early morning silence, stillness, and peace.
Massage yourself. To calm your nervous system, awaken your tissues, and ground yourself; massage your skin with warm, organic Sesame oil or suitable oil for your dosha, leaving a coat of oil on the skin to absorb during the day. Then take a warm, relaxing shower followed by a cold shower for ½ to 2 minutes to prepare for the cold (a traditional Ayurvedic Himalayan cold-water dip as the yogi’s do) This will boost the development of brown fat, lower blood sugar, stimulate your metabolism and increase vital energy. Steam baths and humidifiers can help preserve internal moisture as well. Nasya is also a good practice to clean and protect dry sinuses by snuffing water in one nostril and expelling out the other followed by sesame or coconut oil applied to inside of nostril with your little finger or on a p.
Try yoga and meditation. First thing in the morning doing 20 minutes of gentle yoga (our sun salutation plan for your dosha); exercise first thing increases happiness, lowers cortisol (stress), and makes you feel better. Follow with 10-15 minutes aligning to your source, praying, or meditating to prepare mentally for the day and increase stability and wellbeing.
Do your Pranayama. Follow your dosha specific recommendations with 5 minutes of breath work first thing in the morning to connect body and mind. If Vata anxiety is rising, do 12 alternate breaths morning and evening.
Warming aromas. A little pine, vetiver, geranium, or citrus essential oil is nice in the fall.
Dress for the season. Stay warm to avoid cold and wind and wear autumn colors like reds, yellows, oranges, and whites.
Allow yourself to Rest and Rejuvenate. Fall and Winter are hibernation months so slow down a little. Sleep is an important part of allowing yourself the opportunity to rejuvenate. If sleep is a problem, consider a little melatonin (low doses like (1-5 mg) or talk with your Ayurvedic specialist. Follow the circadian rhythms sleep when its dark and wake at dawn light.
Do not Skip Breakfast, not for the reason the meat and dairy industry has been telling you, but breakfast sets the tone for the full day. We want to start with a high-water content breakfast to continue and support the detoxification stage the body is in. Wait until you are truly hungry before eating, then eat fruit and high-water content items until the biggest meal of the day at lunch (10am-2pm).
Follow the Fall diet Recommendations, in last month’s article.
FALL SEASON EXERCISE TIPS
Consider slow, gentle, strengthening forms of exercise to calm Vata’s predilection for quick, mobile action. Exercise in early morning or early evening (6-10 is best times to exercise) Good fall/winter exercises, done to your fitness and edge, are: walking, hiking, swimming, biking, yoga, and tai chi. Slow your exercising to 50-70% of your capacity for the fall/winter and learn to breathe through your nose, a better way to always breathe. Balance your activity with adequate relaxation and sleep so that your tissues can rejuvenate properly.
YOGA FOR FALL IDEAS
Yoga is a great exercise to own your body type and exercise for wellness and calm. Choose yoga forms that provide warmth, grounding, stability, and focus – in the fall to produce a calming effect on Vata. Remember to use the success breath, ujjiyae (Darth Vader breath) for all your breaths when doing yoga asanas for best effects and energy cleansing.
Some Vata specific Asanas and flow:
Try a relaxed series of Sun Salutations and favor some standing and balancing poses like Warrior poses and Tree Posture to increase strength, balance, and stability.
Connect with the earth beneath you in your poses. Try Cat-Cow, Cobra, Child’s pose, and forward bends.
Gentle inversions such as Legs up on the Wall is good for Vata.
Add breath practices (pranayama) to your Yoga for greater benefits. Nadi Shodana (Alternate Nostril Breathing) is very balancing this time of year. Bhastriki breath can be useful to warm the cool Vata, manage weight, and reduce mucous from the fall weather changes. I also like Kapalabhati which lends to a simple quick meditation. Overall, in the fall and winter I favor slow and regular breathing like Ujjiyae and Nadi Shodana that calm the nervous system and oxygenate the body and its tissues.
Do a nice restful Savasana (Corpse pose) to close your session. Cover yourself with a blanket to stay warm. This is a great time to add a meditation to manage your mental health and give yourself greater spiritual insight and energy awareness. The Vata season of air and space offers greater potentials to expand our subtle energy perception and access our true spiritual natures so use this time well to dive deeper into meditation.
- Chyavanprash can boost immunity, strength, and energy during the autumn season.
- Ashwagandha. is stabilizing for the mind and nervous system, and can promote sound sleep, strong digestion, proper elimination, and appropriate strength.
- Amalaki, is a good fall herb to support immunity.
- Bacopa, is a good brain tonic for brain and memory.
- Herbal Teas good herbal teas for fall and winter can be made from kitchen herbs that support digestion and heating such as 1) ginger and licorice equal parts; and 2) equal parts of cumin, ginger, and fennel.
- Triphala, is great for maintaining colon tone and operation and is very gentle.
Kitchen herbs that are helpful, turmeric, and the five digestive spices (equal parts) ginger, coriander, cumin, fennel, and cardamon. Supporting healthy digestion in the winter is key to balancing Vata and the nervous system. Digestive strength increases in the winter to break down seasonally harvested nuts, grains, tubers, and beans the five digestive spices (ginger, coriander, cumin, fennel, and cardamon) used in your cooking, as a tea or sprinkled on your food can keep digestion working all winter.
Five Digestives tea
Try equal parts of ginger, coriander, cumin, fennel and cardamon as a Vata balancing tea this fall and winter. Increase or decrease the ratios of the ingredients to create your ideal blend.
Curried Acorn Squash Soup w/ Spicy Mushroom Crudites
Ingredients: Acorn Squash (about ½ of a medium on)
4 cups water
1 Tbs coconut oil
1 TBS mild to medium curry spice
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp cinnamon
1 clove diced garlic.
1 tsp mustard powder (optional).
½ packet diced mushrooms.
1 fresh corn cut kernels off the stalk.
1 stalk celery diced.
½ red pepper sliced lengthwise and quartered.
Diced parsley for garnish (optional)
- Bake Acorn squash in oven or stove-top Dutch oven iron pot. When cooked, skin and blend and add water. Heat over low heat.
- While squash is cooking, heat a little coconut oil and add curry powder, allspice, and cinnamon. Add diced garlic, mustard powder (opt.) and fry another minute or two. Stir fry the diced mushrooms, corn, celery, and red pepper.
- Combine the squash and crudites and cook for 10 minutes and serve. Enjoy, add some fresh diced parsley for visual appeal.
Polenta slices with Eggplant/Red Pepper in tomato sauce
Ingredients: 3-4 med. Tomatoes blend with garlic, 1 tsp oregano and 1 tsp basil)
1 large Eggplant (brinjal) cubed in 25 mm (1 inch) cubes.
½ red pepper sliced lengthwise in small slices.
1-2 cups diced mushrooms.
1 medium onion sliced lengthwise.
1 cup polenta
½ tsp rosemary
2-3 Tbs ghee or oil or ½ cup Hippocrates soup (for Detox version)
Procedure: Start by putting 1 cup polenta in about 2 cups of boiling water and a half teaspoon of rosemary. Stir frequently or whisk until it forms a smooth porridge. Pour this into an oiled baking pan spread out to about ¼ inch (6 mm) thick and heat at 200 until firm. Lower heat and keep warm until the veggies are done.
In the meantime, heat (medium to high) the spices in oil, ghee, or Hippocrates soup (for a detox compatible recipe) with the diced mushrooms until flavor disperses in sauce or oil, 2-4 minutes. Cut the vegetables into bite sized chunks and place them in heated ghee, oil, or Hippocrates soups reducing heat to low. Add the onions, and tomato sauce (blended tomatoes with oregano and basil). Cook at low heat until well coated with spices and cooked, all vegetables and eggplant soft.
Remove the polenta from the oven and cut into triangles or squares. Pour the veggie fry on each square and serve. Eat while warm and enjoy with fresh salad and perhaps a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
Quinoa with Veggies in Ghee
Ingredients: 1 cup quinoa (red or white)
Salt as desired
2 Tbs Ghee
1 tsp of each cumin, coriander, fennel, and grated ginger
1 tsp mustard seed (opt.)
1 medium onion sliced lengthwise and cut in half.
1-3 cloves garlic diced.
½ cauliflower cut into 25mm (1 in) cubes
2 tomatoes diced.
2-3 zucchini (baby marrow) diced.
½ package mushrooms diced
1 small orange sweet potato (yam) sliced into halfmoons.
Procedure: Start by putting 1 cup quinoa in about 2 cups of boiling water (may have to add more water. Stir frequently until the grains expand and get soft (20min or more with red quinoa, little less with white quinoa). Add a little salt if desired. Put it aside but keep it warm until serving.
In the meantime, make your veggies; in a large frying pan put in 2 TBS ghee and your spices (cumin, coriander, fennel, and grated ginger) with 1 tsp mustard seeds and fry until mustard seed pops. Add the onions, garlic, and vegetables (cauliflower, tomato, baby marrow (zucchini), mushrooms, sweet potato (yam), etc.). Place harder vegetables that need more cooking in oil first (i.e., mushrooms and sweet potatoes) and then add the remainder and cook till complete. Cook at low heat until well coated with spices and cooked, soft.
Place a heap of Quinoa on the plate and put the veggies on top of it. Enjoy!
To make about 500 ml (2 cups) of celery juice; juice 2 granny smith apples and 4-5 stalks of celery with a small slice of lemon. Add more celery or apple to the juicer if its less than 2 cups results (small apples or celery).
Cinnamon, Cardamon Stewed Apples or Pears
A lovely breakfast or dessert.
Ingredients: 2 apples or pears, cored and sliced lengthwise thinly.
1-2 tsp cinnamon
1-2 tsp cardamom
1 tbs ghee
Heat 1 tbs ghee to low heat, add the spices and then the pears or apples and turn until hot and soft. Enjoy! I like them just as is or add a little yogurt or whipped cream.
Embracing the Fall Lifestyle
Invest in your own health and vitality by consciously adapting to the seasons with lifestyle, exercise, rejuvenation, and meditation. Align with nature starting today. Enjoy fall, with lifestyle choices that create stability, humility, rejuvenation, and gratitude now.
In nature, later fall and winter is a season of rejuvenation, rest, and hibernation. A respite from our active lives to prepare for an active spring and summer. Give yourself permission as we approach winter to rest and prepare for the new year.
Life is based on cycles of rest and activity. Without balance between these two, regardless of the season, we pay dearly in terms of health, happiness, and longevity. Winter rest is a great time to reset the connection between your biological clocks and nature’s circadian rhythms, by going to bed earlier and waking as the sun rises. The additional rest also boosts our immune system and prepares us for greater productivity in the new year.
Have a great fall and look for Fall Lifestyle in May,
Ayurvedic Specialist, Living Wholeness Ayurveda, 071 959 0786
Copyright Jim Montrose, May 2023